EDITORIAL: Far right politics and generational voting patterns

Far-right candidate for the presidential election Marine Le Pen waves to supporters at the end of her speech during a meeting in La Bazoche Gouet, central France, Monday, April 3, 2017. A self-described patriot, Le Pen hopes to extract France from the European Union and do away with Frances membership in the shared euro currency. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)


Far-right candidate for the presidential election Marine Le Pen waves to supporters at the end of her speech during a meeting in La Bazoche Gouet, central France, Monday, April 3, 2017. A self-described patriot, Le Pen hopes to extract France from the European Union and do away with France’s membership in the shared euro currency. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

As an 18-year-old in the 21st century, I watch a lot of YouTube. One of my favorite channels is Vox, which covers topics ranging anywhere from nature to the status of different countries. Evidently, it’s one of those places I get a percentage of my news and educate myself on current issues. Their most recent video was about one of France’s leading candidates running in the 2017 presidential election that will take place on May 7th.

Her name is Marine Le Pen of the “Front National” party and at a glance your first instinct would be to say “she’s just another Hillary Clinton.” Nothing out of the ordinary. However, if that was your assumption, you would be wrong. She’s a far right candidate who has values that are almost a reflection of  President Trump’s. Coming from the Front National Party, this is not surprising. Le Pen is actually the daughter of its founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who is known for his racist and anti-semitic rhetoric that, until now, has been a view accepted by the party as a whole.

The majority of his rhetoric stems from Jean-Marie’s belittlement of the tragedies that occurred in concentration camps. Specifically, claiming that they were a minor detail in the event of World War II. Although Marie has been trying to distance herself from her father since she took control of the party in 2011, her tactics have evidently backfired. In a recent interview, she denied France’s culpability for rounding up Jewish citizens for the Nazis at an incident in Vel’ d’Hiv. In other inciting instances, such as the Paris bombing, Marine Le Pen was the first to blame “Islamic Fundamentalism,” even when foreign leaders like President Obama weren’t so fast to jump the gun.

Le Pen is also a major advocate for a “France for the French” policy, starting with banning the public from wearing Hijabs and other forms of headscarves in public. As of right now it is illegal to wear head scarves in public schools but with Le Pen leading, public spaces do not seem that far off. She would also like to halt immigration or accepting refugees from war-torn countries like Syria. A “Frexit”, following in the footsteps of their neighbor, the U.K., has been yet another aspect of her campaign.

“Especially to the people of different origins and different religions who have been welcomed into our country, I remind the obvious: there are not, and there never will be, any other laws and values in France than French laws and French Values.” -Marine Le Pen

Doesn’t this sound eerily familiar? A France for the French or an America for the Americans. Throughout our election and in Trump’s almost 100 days in office, immigration has been key to his platform. In a lot of ways France and America’s recent past have been similar, dealing with globalization, dealing with immigration, and dealing with Islamically radicalized attacks. In both countries resulting from these causes, heightening national security and closing borders have become very tough and hot topics of conversation.

In a sense, we have created the same person to run our country out of such conflict. Because we elect our leaders, they reflect our mentality as a country. But why have we become so closed off to letting new people in and letting them stay? France may have a different story due to their past as a homogeneous country, whereas Americans who have always been heterogeneous, but things have come to this point because of all the facts I listed above or as I see it, generations responding to previous generations, forming their ideology as degrees of liberalism. For instance the greatest generation, born from 1901 to 1927, worked hard and strove for what they wanted, so their kids, the silent generation (1928-1945), lived within the system and didn’t rock the boat. Then as a result, their kids, the baby boomers (1946-1964), hated the system and are completely responsible for the civil rights movement. So just within three generations, there are three overarching degrees of liberalism shown in their attitudes.

For the longest time, nearing the end of Obama’s second term, many were saying that Bush was to be the last Republican president we would have for the foreseeable future; however, in November we did elect a Republican. I don’t think it really has to do with the events themselves that closed the minds of Americans but the time and the majority of the Americans voting. Because of the generation you were born into, be it an an older or an younger you’re apt to look upon those events in a different light. Older generations see these events and say “build a wall,” where I, representative of the Founders generation (those after the millennials), say our country is built on diversity and we should help everyone. Here there seems to be a generational gap. What I recognize as a brash reaction to globalization, seeing an increase in immigration in the past decades, it has become an issue too real for older generations.

Presidencies like Trump and what could be Le Pen, will definitely have lasting affects on their countries and the world but as younger generations, such as the founders and millennials, grow up, our ideology will overcome theirs. Arbitrarily, globalization in itself is a moot point due to the fact that our interconnectedness through the internet and ease of travel are unstoppable and irreversible. In all cases, time will triumph and for now, those of us who do not agree with the far right, will just have to grow up and vote in the next election.